Grit Blogs > Of Mice and Mountain Men

Life Without the Internet

This morning I am contemplating what life would be like without internet. Yes, I realize there are survivalists ensconced in the deep woods of Montana who have neither internet nor cell phones.  However, for many of us, it is almost unfathomable to realize that human life on this planet did once exist – and quite happily, too – without being interconnected to every other human and massive stores of information through the internet. It is particularly astonishing that this condition existed in my own lifetime.  As a youngling, if I wanted to converse with a friend, I did not send a text message on a cell phone or e-mail through a computer, I walked next door or down the street and said, ”Hello.”

I am not going to launch into a diatribe on how life has changed in the last few decades.  That’s been done to death.  But for various reasons I am considering what life without internet would be like.  I am finding that although I existed quite happily without it once, it would be a major change to my life now.  The internet has insinuated itself into my life in so many ways that giving it up would be like giving up my ears or a leg.  I could still function, but I’d be crippled.

In addition to e-mail communications, most of the audio and video entertainment my wife and I enjoy is piped in over the internet because we don’t have television at home.  Our telephone service is also riding the waves of internet. I conduct several businesses over the internet through web sites that I maintain.  Sales are processed on-line and funds deposited into my bank via EFT.  Even my banking and bill paying are done primarily over the internet.  And shopping – goodness yes, we have access to so many things over the internet that are not available to us here in our rural community.

Of course, I would not have to completely cut myself off from the world.  I could make use of WiFi hotspots in the coffee shop and fast food restaurants in town.  But that would mean driving Marie into town, dropping her off at work (stranding her there) so I could keep the truck and get to a WiFi enabled eatery. And, of course, employees of these eateries glare at you menacingly if you just walk in, sit down with your laptop and use the service they provide.  But if I have all my work prepared and the files ready to upload, a couple cups of coffee and a bagel should cover the time I’d need to get caught up on my essential work with a work session once every week or two.   

But I will annoy people, because most people assume that anyone online is jacked-in 24/7 and expect a nearly immediate response to every inquiry.  I’d have to post a notice on all contact pages clearly stating that I do not actually live in this century, but will get back to them as soon as I pop in through my time tunnel.

And Marie would still have access at work.  Most of her work is done over corporate networks that utilize the internet to connect them all.  She is adamant about not stealing company time by doing personal browsing, shopping or e-mailing during work hours (and I admire her for that).  But she gets a couple of breaks and a lunch period where she could take care of household shopping chores.

The biggest blow to me will be in regards to my Kindle.  I like reading on my Kindle and I like the ease of downloading new books and samples directly to it.  But that requires access through our home network, to the internet.  I could upgrade to the 3G model and maybe we’d get a useable signal in our mountains, but maybe not. I’d probably just download to my laptop and transfer to my Kindle via the USB cable using Calibre, which greatly eases that chore and even converts foreign formats into Kindle format for me.

And e-mail.  I would not miss the telephone at all, but I rely heavily on e-mail. I frequently exchange multiple e-mails a day with my best bud; who lives in Alabama, and with my mother; who lives in her own house here on our property.  But rather than walking the 150 feet or so down the hill to ask a question or share something I learned, it’s clickety-clickety-clickety-click, SEND.

I’ll get more exercise without e-mail that’s for sure!

But it may well be just like when we gave up television – we suddenly found that we had SO much more time to get things done because we were not parked in front of The Tube, sucking in that inane drivel that passes for entertainment these days.  Who knows, if I weren’t so tempted by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, maybe I’d actually get another book written.

There might be an up-side to this after all.